BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Alexis Govan’s three-pointer with 11 seconds remaining forced overtime, and the Lady Toppers outscored East Carolina 15-4 in the extra session to advance to the second round of the 2013 Women’s National Invitation Tournament with an 88-77 win Thursday night at E.A. Diddle Arena.
The Lady Toppers (22-10) will next play at Auburn on Sunday (March 24). Tipoff is slated for 2 p.m. (CDT).
Thursday night’s victory first postseason win for the Lady Toppers since a 72-54 win over Hofstra in the quarterfinals of the 2007 WNIT. Overall, it was WKU’s 30th all-time postseason win, combining victories in the NCAA Tournament and WNIT.
“We talked from the beginning of the year that this program was on the rise, and this win tonight was a huge part of that message,” said Lady Topper head coach Michelle Clark-Heard. “This team just continues to keep amazing me. We never gave up tonight, and I’m so proud of them for the fight they showed.”
With the teams tied at halftime, it was ECU (22-10) that delivered the first blow of the final 20 minutes, scoring 10 unanswered points out of the locker room to jump out to a 42-32 lead. That would prove to be the largest lead of the half, however, as WKU chipped away and cut the deficit to 54-53 midway through the period.
The Lady Toppers never led in the half, and trailed 73-66 with 2:05 remaining. Govan took over from there, scoring the final seven points of the period, including a three with 11 ticks left to tie things back up at 73-73 and force overtime.
ECU led 76-75 early in the extra session, but the Lady Toppers connected on four of six shots from the field, and outscored the Pirates 13-1 in the final 3:26 to stretch the final margin of victory to 11.
The Lady Toppers stormed out of the gates, hitting six of their first seven shots, ans jumping out to a 13-4 lead on a Bianca McGee three just over four minutes into the contest. The WKU lead stood at 16-9 after an Govan trey, but the Pirates used an 11-2 run to take their first lead when a Colleen Marshall jumper made it a 20-18 score midway through the half.
The teams traded the lead five times before WKU got a three-point play from LeAsia Wright to spark a 7-0 spurt that put the Lady Toppers back in front 30-24 with 5:10 left before halftime. ECU continued to stay close, and got a three from Celeste Stewart — the last of her three three-pointers in the first half — with 10 seconds left, sending the teams to the locker room tied at 32-32.
Three Lady Toppers finished the game in double figures, led by Gooch’s game-high 26 points and 12 rebounds. Govan also posted a double-double with 25 points and 11 boards, while McGee added 15 points and dished out seven assists. Stewart led ECU with 25 points, while Britny Edwards added 15 points and 14 rebounds.